Please keep in mind that this post revolves mainly around PvE. This change and its impact on PvE mages is nonexistent.
So the developers over at WoW central have decided that downranking spells is a bad thing, and have amalgamated everything to cost a percent of base mana, rather than having different mana costs per rank.
Obviously there are differing opinions on it, so here’s mine.
Removing the ability to use rank 1 spells at a cheaper cost will destroy a mage’s utility in PvP.
Any arguments to this simply do not understand the way a mage functions in PvP.
It’s certainly possible that PvP will change, rendering my current frame of mind that this is a massive nerf to be irrelevant. It’s quite possible that things like snares, crowd control and dispel protection will no longer matter in level 80 PvP.
Somehow I doubt that.
First off, what’s happened here. Spells will now cost the same amount of mana no matter what rank you use. In other words, a rank 16 frostbolt, will cost the same as a rank 1. Or a rank 7, or a rank 82. Whatever the rank, it carries the same mana cost.
The goal of removing the whole idea of “downranking” is quite obvious. It doesn’t make sense that a damage spell or healing spell should be casted at any rank besides the max rank. To borrow a phrase from Blessing of Kings, having Paladins use rank 5 holy light, rather than rank 7, for the sake of efficiency alone, is “degenerate gameplay”.
This should lead to a stronger, more balanced, and more fun game.
All I can think of when I hear about the end of downranking spells is that my PvP game just became much, much more expensive.
On the surface, this makes sense. Eliminating the possibility of downranking for the sake of balancing DPS and HPS in a much easier will allow both PvE and PvP to be easier to balance. Meaning, of course, that imbalances will be much fewer and much farther between.
Of course, it has the side effect of ruining the majority of a mages defensive spells.
Here’s a list of spells that mages downrank all the way to rank 1 for the sole purpose of utility:
- Mana Shield
- Frost Nova
- Cone of Cold
- Arcane Explosion
- Dampen Magic
- Frost Armor
So that’s 9 abilities that are going to be ruined by this change. 7 strategies that are now mostly meaningless.
Rank 1 frostbolt and rank 1 cone of cold are both used as a snare when the mage either cannot spare the mana or time to use a full rank. The difference in cast time between rank 1 frostbolt and max rank is 2 seconds; a lifetime in PvP. Sure, mages will still be able to use rank 1 (so far, these haven’t been eliminated from the spell book, so you can still use lesser ranks if you want) only now, they will be paying much, much more mana than they do now.
Same goes for cone of cold. Without a mana difference, mages will be paying a very high premium for a spell that is largely used as a quick and cheap snare. Rank 1 cone of cold is one of the very best kiting tools a mage has.
Frost Armor shares this premise, the idea being to switch to this armor when the opposing team is gunning for you, and most of them are melee. Again, a very cheap snare.
Rank 1 AE and blizzard are both used as a way to flush out stealthed units, such as rogues… especially rogues. (Note that rank1 Blizzard is also used to keep people in combat when they are out of LOS). Robbed of this tool, a mage will be largely at the mercy of whatever rogue decides to attack them. It is very, very hard for a mage to recover from a rogue that successfully gets the jump on him, at least alone. With friends, it is merely difficult.
Apparently, it was never intended for us (meaning mages) to abuse rank 1 AE as a cheap way to locate rogues. Rogues are supposed to be able to “get the jump” on us. Which makes sense, I guess?
Ah well. Blizzard will simply never be used in arena PvP again.
Rank 1 Polymorph was simple efficiency. The only difference between rank 1 poly and max rank is the mana cost. In PvE, of course, there is a difference in the length that the polymorph lasts, but there is no difference in PvP. Hence, the lowest rank was used to save mana.
Exact same idea for rank1 frost nova. There is no purpose to any higher rank of this spell. The damage increases, yes, but it’s insignificant in the extreme, for much more (relatively) mana. I never even trained past rank 2 frost nova, once I realized that I had spent my hard earned cash for nothing.
Rank 1 Dampen Magic and Mana Shield are dispel fodder, used exclusivley as buffs that are meant to pad out the buff bar, in the hopes that when (not if) a mage is hit with a dispel mechanic, the more important buffs survive. The dampen magic change won’t be much difference, the mana cost change before combat initiates is meaningless. Just means it won’t be actively used while in combat, if ever.
Mana Shield, hopefully, won’t be impacted too much. With rank 1, the idea is to have a very cheap thing to absorb a dispel, and yet not use the full rank. The potential to lose a large chunk of your mana with the full rank is stupid at best. Hopefully it’s base mana cost will still allow it to be cast as dispel fodder, and retain it’s almost non-existent mana loss if you do get struck by a damaging ability.
The idea here is that a mage uses rank 1 spells for a utility which is, usually, completely different from their equivalent max rank.
Max rank AE is for killing lots of bad guys. Rank 1 is for finding one particularly sneaky bad guy.
Max rank frostbolt is for dealing damage, with a snare attached. Rank 1 is a quick snare for use when the mage simply cannot afford to stand still.
Essentially, all these spells have two aspects to them that are useful, but as a mage, you usually only require one of them for a given situation. Look at it this way. The first rank of one of these spells is a completely different spell from their max rank.
In other words, we mages are going to lose a fairly significant amount of our viability. Yes, you can still use the lowest ranks of these spells, it’s just they will all cost the same amount of mana. Meaning, mages will pay much, much more than what they’re paying now.
The thought occured to me (and apparently many others) to leave rank 1′s the way they are, and have everything else scale. This would preserve the current utility the low ranks provide, while preventing strange things like the way healing spells currently work.
But that, of course, is not the intention. The intention is to have these spells work the way they’re supposed to at max level, and balance around that. I imagine it must be a pain to balance classes knowing mages are running around using rank 1 frostbolt, even if a mage is near crippled without it.
QQ aside, I am a blogger now, I can’t mindlessly flame things anymore. Where do mages go from here?
We anticipate there being some balance concerns due to this change, and our development staff will be ready to implement new spells, abilities, or talents to resolve those issues as the testing process continues.
As it stands right now, the “loss” of all these utility spells will be crippling to a class that already has horrendous issues with mana.
Maybe, just maybe, PvP will be balanced so that rank 1′s will no longer be needed. Maybe snares and crowd control will no longer be necessary. Or the max ranks of these spells will get better to accommodate this loss.
Perhaps the way mana is restored will make up for the sudden jump in the cost of mage abilities. Maybe spirit will actually do something for the majority of mages. Maybe while casting mana regeneration will be buffed. It shouldn’t be hard to buff it up from zero.
Or, even better, mages get additional spells to fill in the gaping holes left by this change. Maybe PvP will change so that the additional mana cost is utterly moot, as any given fight won’t last long enough for it to matter.
As it is now, my class, the mage class, is just barely “balanced” with these rank 1 spells. Without them, without any additional (and significant) changes, my class will become the new hunter in end game PvP.
I hope this doesn’t happen. If it does… well. That will probably be the end of it.
Sorry for the long post, thanks for bearing with me.
The current mana costs for abilities, as available at level 77. Remember, this is base mana cost, so the number in the right is assuming a level 77 mage. No talent reductions taken into account here.
Arcane Blast – 40%, 1184
Arcane Barrage – 18%, 522
Fireblast – 21%, 621
Fireball – 21%, 621
Frostfire Bolt – 16%, 473
Scorch – 8%, 236
Frostbolt – 15%, 444
Ice Lance – 7%, 207
Deep Freeze – 8%, 236
Arcane Explosion – 25%, 725
Arcane Missiles – 34%, 1006
Focus Magic – 535 (independent of base mana cost)
Mana Shield – 7%, 207
Polymorph – 12%, 355
Slow – 20%, 592
Spellsteal – 20%, 592
Remove Curse – 8%, 236
Blink – 21%, 620
Counterspell – 9%, 266
Invisibility – 16%, 473
Flamestrike – 53%, 1568
Blastwave – 28%, 828
Dragon’s Breath – 31%, 917
Living Bomb – 31%, 1095
Pyroblast – 22%, 651
Blizzard – 74%, 2190
Cone of Cold – 29%, 858
Frostnova – 8%, 236
Ice Barrier – 25%, 740
Water Elemental – 16%, 473